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Animikii Leads a Graphic Design Workshop at Takhini Elementary School

April 24, 2019

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From April 23-27, 2019, Animikii Thunderbird Mark Rutledge attended the Takhini Elementary School to give a workshop on Graphic Design on the traditional territories of the KWANLIN DÜN and TA'AN KWÄCH'ÄN Peoples in Whitehorse, Yukon. 


Takhini Elementary School is a Grades K-7 School in Whitehorse with approximately 65% of students identifying as Indigenous. Mark led a version of his Branding workshop “Brand You” entitled “Project You” and worked with the Grade Five and Six students to create posters that celebrate the diverse community that is Takhini School.

We caught up with Mark on his return to see how the workshops went, what his takeaways were, and what he found to be the most impactful part of the workshop.

Why did you decide to attend the event?

takhini_elementary_schoolMark: As Lead Designer at Animikii, I’m at a point in my career where I feel the need to give back to the communities and places where I work. I want to inspire and teach the future generations that there are many role models around them that they can look up to. Those in fields of practice that aren’t just your typical jobs. But those that may interest them. Those in the digital realm. Graphic designers, UI/UX designers, web and app developers and programmers. 

What did you and the students do for the workshop?

takhini_elementary_school_3Mark: I was approached by Amanda Bartle a teacher at Takhini Elementary, to see how we can profile her students to the rest of the school. What was the best way to do that? I immediately thought of how I could apply and adapt my “Brand You” workshop for kids. I came up with the “Project You” workshop that would empower them to show their peers at the school on what makes them unique. I wanted to give them the opportunity to share who they are and what they love to do. What makes them different and to be proud of who they are and where they come from. 

“Project You” is about empowerment. I lead the students through a series of photographic and graphic design assignments that would ultimately lead to them creating a movie size poster about who they are and what makes them different.  The project was essentially a 2-part workshop. One in photography and the use of Photoshop and the other was layout and design using Illustrator. We also touched writing skills, portrait photography and lighting, basic design principles and colour theory. 

To empower themselves, I had the students pair up and take portraits of their friends. These would then be used in their posters. They really enjoyed that part. Playing around with a  camera and learning how to correctly light their model using the lighting equipment I had provided.

What part of the workshop did you find the most impactful?

takhini_elementary_school_4Mark: When I do these types of workshops, I find that I am also the learner. I learn from the students. I am truly amazed at how easily they are able to pick up the skills of photography and graphic design and how to effectively use the software. In mere days, they were picking up the basics of the design software. They are fearless and love to learn. 

Why do you think it’s important for Animikii to reach out in this kind of capacity?

takhini_elementary_school_5Mark: I have always believed that it’s vital for us to give back to the communities that we live and work in. I also realize that we need to uplift and support our people, especially the next generation, our youth.



Which of the 7 Grandfather teachings was most expressed at the workshop?



Mark: I believe it’s vital that we represent and reflect our values. The values of Humility, Truth, Honesty, Wisdom, Respect, Courage and above all, Love. Love is the binding that holds together all the other values. One cannot know or understand love without humility, truth, honesty, wisdom, respect and courage. Love is the value that allows us to work cohesively as a team and with our broader partners and clients. In this context, love is about acknowledging the value we each bring to the team and about supporting team member ideas and pursuits.

April 24, 2019

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